New Bands Mikey & The Drags, Bang Bangz Debut Saturday

Saturday night at Mango's, two new local acts make their debut. Rocks Off rummaged through our Rolodex and contacted them to find out what to expect.

First on the list is Mikey & The Drags, formed by Miguel Ponce, whom many folks will remember as the frontman of The McKenzies. It's his first musical output in two years, showcasing his love of '50s and '60s garage rock.

Rocks Off: What's the story behind the band name?

Miguel Ponce: When I was thinking of a name for this project, I wanted somthing that sounded classic - something with that old 50's/60's feel to it, like Bill Haley & The Comets, Buddy Holly & The Crickets [and] Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels.

Mikey was a nickname of mine and The Drags - well, we're just no fun, haha. I got the idea of "the drags" from a Ty Segall song.

RO: How did Andrew (Lee) & Memo get involved, and who's playing what? Has Memo been in other bands?

MP: Memo used to be in a band called Ellypseas; I met him while I was still in The McKenzies. We've stayed close friends since then. Andrew and I have been friends for a long time now. Everyone knows Andrew as a guitarist, but I knew that he could play drums pretty damn good, so I asked Mr. Andrew to play drums. Memo is also a guitarist but I really needed a bassist, so I asked him to play bass.

RO: How many songs do you have worked up so far? Your Facebook page seems to imply that there might be some covers performed on Saturday. Can you confirm this?

MP: So far we have four original songs and one song The McKenzies played that we re-vamped ("This Lonely Heart"). There's also one cover song that we will be playing Saturday.

RO: What does Mikey & The Drags bring to the Houston scene that wasn't already there?

MP: I have no idea. Its not like the scene that's happening right now is linear or one-dimensional. We're just a new band, and I guess that hasn't happened in a while. We're really hoping to bring garage tunes a broader audience.

RO: Have you got any more shows lined up?

MP: We have two more shows coming up: September 17 at The Mink with Psychic Palms and September 27 at The Mink with Acid Baby Jesus, Hell Shovel and Psychic Palms.

RO: Do you have plans to record?

MP: I'm really hoping to record and put out a 45 before 2012.

RO: Finish this sentence: A Mikey & The Drags show will ___ and make you want to ____.

MP: A Mikey & The Drags show will quake the ground under you and MAKE you move and shake.

RO: Lastly, If Mikey & The Drags was a movie, it would be ____.

MP: If Mikey & The Drags was a movie, it would be directed by Ed Wood.

Rocks Off also tracked down Tax The Wolf's Mario Rodriguez, to quiz him about his new project, Bang Bangz. Formed out of a chance meeting with singer Elizabeth Salazar, the new trio employs simple electronic beats, nostalgic guitar hooks, two vocalists, and now a drummer, Vik Montemayor of The Live Lights. They've been aggressively composing songs, pushing forward with nary a glance over their shoulders, with plans to record an EP already in the works.

Rocks Off: OK, so it's you, Elizabeth, & Vik - who plays what?

Mario Rodriguez: Elizabeth is behind the keys and vocals, Vik is our drummer and I'm playing the guitar and singing as well.

RO: What drew you to Elizabeth's singing?

MR: I really enjoyed her vocal range in her tracks although the music was very electroclash or dance-pop which was something I wasn't into. I immediately thought about making music centered around that style of singing.

RO: Vik was a late addition. What made you decide to bring him into this project?

MR: We had an idea of making a full electronic project when we began, and we had shown our friends (the music). Vik was very interested in adding some elements onto it. After one rehearsal with him, Elizabeth and I were blown away with his dynamics and his initial structures behind drums. He was in.

RO: Describe what you mean by nostalgic guitar hooks.

MR: I've always been intertwined with atmospheric and eerie sounds. Now that we're working with more electronic music I have had a lot more motivation to make simplistic guitar hooks. I think what we've created sounds straight from a dream or something.

RO: Where does your inspiration come from?

MR: Elizabeth and I have completely different backgrounds in inspiration, but I think that's perfect towards what we're trying to create. Simplicity is our main goal in this band and we're perfecting it little by little. It was really nice coming into the studio and writing our first song in the first ten minutes of collaborating together.

RO: Why the name Bang Bangz, and are you concerned with the stigma of using a Z where an S is supposed to be?

MR: We're not really concerned with the stigma behind the name. We wanted to portray the connection between two musicians; a collision of sounds and inspirations from two different people. We are in love with the name and it has shaped our sound in some ways.

RO: Aside from Saturday, do you have any other shows lined up?

MR: No, we don't have any other shows lined up yet. The show was offered for me as a solo act, but I was in the midst of beginning this band so we went with it. We're planning to do more shows in Houston and then stretching out to regional cities in the next months.

RO: How many songs have you got so far? How many would be on the EP?

MR: We have six songs at the moment and we're still working on perfecting them. Our EP will have five songs

RO: What does Bang Bangz have to offer Houston that was lacking before the band existed?

MR: We're not very certain if there's a similar sound in Houston because we're quite new to this style of playing. We'll get more answers and feedback after a couple of shows.

RO: Complete the following analogy: If Bang Bangz was a mythical creature, it would be a ____ because _____.

MR: If Bang Bangz was a mythical creature, it would be a cyclops because all it needs is one eye to be the best at what it does. He just chills with the mermaids and stuff.

Mikey & The Drags, Bang Bangz, Second Lovers and Papaya play 9 p.m. Saturday at Mango's, 403 Westheimer. All ages; $5.

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